Sunday, October 27, 2019

Hoka One One Speedgoat 4 Multi Tester Review

Article by Jeff Beck, Canice Harte, Dom Layfield, and Jeff Valliere

Hoka ONE ONE Speedgoat 4 ($145)

Jeff B: Amazing grip, just right cushioning, upper breathes and locks foot down, toe box no longer crushes digits.
Dom:    All the strengths of the previous version: tons of cushion, great grip, solid foothold. 
Jeff V:   Cushioning, traction, improved upper, stability, protection
Canice: Great cushion without being mushy or too soft . Plenty of traction and a roomy toe box.

Dom/Jeff V./ Jeff B.:  Weight increased slightly 
Dom:  Lack of stretch in forefoot compromises comfort (but enhances foothold)
Dom:  Subjective weaknesses of previous Speedgoats: so much cushion that ground feel is limited.
Canice: Upper fabric does not stretch and the height of the toe box is shallow to flat.
Dom:  Not much to report, as shoe feels very similar.

Tester Profiles
Dom 47, trains and competes mainly on trails in Southern California running about 3000 miles and 500k ft of vert per year.  In 2017 he was 14th at Western States 100 and in 2018 finished 50th at UTMB and 32nd at the 2018 Los Angeles marathon in a time of 2:46.  
Jeff V. runs mostly on very steep technical terrain above Boulder often challenging well known local FKT's. 
Canice is a 2 x finisher of the Wasatch 100, the Bear 100, Moab 100 and Western States 100 as well as many other Ultras. He regularly competes in Expedition Length Adventure races with his longest race to date 600 miles as well as traditional road races and triathlons.
Jeff the token slow runner of the RTR lineup as such his viewpoints on shoe and gear can differ from those who routinely finish marathons in three hours or less. Jeff runs 40 miles per week, both roads and desert trails in Phoenix, Arizona. He has a PR's of 4:07 marathon and 5K at 23:39 both he is working to demolish with help from his coach Dave Ames as he trains for his first 50 mile race in December 2019.

Weight:: 10.8 ounces men's / (US9)  / 9.2 ounces women's / (US8)
  Samples: US Men’s Size 10: 11.25 oz. / 318 grams
      US Men’s Size 10.5: 11.7 oz. / 332 grams
Stack Height: 28mm (forefoot) 32mm (heel)
Available November 2019, including in wide for the1st time. $145.00

First Impressions and Fit
Dom:  I briefly tried, and immediately rejected, the original Speedgoat, which just felt built for an alien foot.  The second version surprised me at how much better it was. The Speedgoat 2 was an excellent ultra distance mountain shoe, and I wore the SG2 in many long races, most notably two iterations at UTMB.  About the only thing objectively wrong with SG2 was some minor durability issues with the upper. SG3 fixed this.  

So whither Speedgoat 4? The first thing I did after took them out of the box was to weigh them, and to my surprise found them heavier than the three.  Not by a lot: an increase of 0.3 oz / 7 g per shoe, just over 2%, but still, a step in the wrong direction. This was disappointing, considering that the promotional material from Hoka stated that “midsole features a new lightweight foam”. The catalog also promises that “Wider forefoot offers a more stable ride and accommodating fit”, and while the outer width of the sole has increased very slightly (by approximately 1 mm, 122 mm vs 121 mm in size M10), the interior of the shoe was not discernibly different in width.  I tried running with a SG3 on my left foot and a SG4 on my right; the next day I reversed this. I couldn’t tell the difference. Both shoes have uppers with limited stretch, and both feel a little constricting to me; I prefer the stretch panel across the EVO Mafate and EVO Speedgoat, which makes those shoes more comfortable, and allows a little more toe splay, at the cost of slightly diminished foothold.  
Jeff B: I’m the outlier reviewer, this is the first Speedgoat I’ve ever run in. I tried on the 3 and Evo Speedgoat, but the narrow toe box/forefoot platform of each shoe told me that trying to force an otherwise great shoe onto my foot would be a mistake. 
Not to bury the lede, but that’s no longer an issue with the Speedgoat 4, and I could not be happier. The Speedgoat feels like Hoka’s Goldilocks shoe: it’s cushioned, but not too much (Stinson), it’s got an aggressive outsole, but isn’t a soft dirt/mud exclusive (Evo Jawz), and now the toe  box has room, but it isn’t sloppy up front (Challenger). 
My only gripe when I first tried them on was Hoka used the same trapezoid pattern over the toe box that they used in the Evo Mafate 2 and Evo Speedgoat, but instead of using a stretchy neoprene-like material in the Evo shoes, they used the same material as the rest of the tongue that has very little give. But my pre-run assessment was way off - this shoe didn’t need any more room. My pair is a true-to-size 10.5D, not even the 2E that I’d hoped to get, but the wide version won’t be available for another month or two. I’d strongly recommend runners who have been holding out for a wider Speedgoat to give the 4 a shot. It’s not much wider, but it is ever so slightly wider, and for me that has made all the difference.

Jeff V:  Like Dom, I have run in every Speedgoat.  The first one was a real flop for me and I only ran in it 2 or 3 times, as it was so narrowly tapered in the forefoot, it gave me painful blisters and the shoe was incredibly tippy, causing me to fall several times and a few other near misses (normally a very rare occurrence for me on any terrain).  

The SG2 however was a huge improvement and was one of my favorite shoes at the time, carrying me to a few PRs, a technical trail ½ marathon win and numerous long mountain runs.  However they would, for whatever reason and only on occasion pinch my feet at the met heads no matter how carefully I laced them. I would also break through the upper, which is also quite rare for me.  

The SG3 improvements to the upper were excellent with higher quality and more breathable materials, but still fit a little snug in the forefoot, unnoticeable on shorter runs, but still occasionally problematic on warm/hot longer runs where my feet swell.  Of course there was the most recent EVO Speedgoat, with Matryx upper that has a bit more stretch and relieved that pressure, but at the cost of foothold in technical terrain.  

Enter the Speedgoat 4 with an even further improved and more durable upper and an ever so slightly wider underfoot platform (a millimeter or so).  

This added width is visually apparent when comparing the SG4 with the two previous versions when laying them outsole to outsole and also when looking down on them while wearing one on each foot.  I can feel the difference on my feet ever so slightly.

Canice: The first thing I noticed when I placed my foot in the shoe for the first time was that my toes felt restricted across the top. As I suspected when I ran them I didn’t feel this, so it’s a non issue but on a personal note, I like uppers that have some give. Big picture, the Speedgoat 4 feels like a Speedgoat 3. So if you like your 3’s, you’ll like the new 4’s.
 Left to right, EVO Speedgoat, Speedgoat 3 and Speedgoat 4

Jeff B: Hoka used a very breathable mesh upper with a number of welded overlays giving the shoe lots of support. 

There is also a translucent overlay that traces the upper where it meets the midsole, and flares up higher around the toebox and heel collar. I was a little concerned that this would limit the toebox flex, but after two runs totalling nearly 30 miles, I’ve had no problems whatsoever. One of those runs was 20 miles with nearly 3,500 feet of climbing (so an easy afternoon for the other four reviewers), and I only experience some light rubbing past mile 18 after my feet had swollen up some. But light rubbing is 1 on a scale of 1-10 for problems with a shoe, so no worries there. Overall, this upper is very dialed in, and is not nearly as loose fitting as the Challenger or Stinson, and fits very similarly to the Evo Mafate 2. The tongue is very thin, but I haven’t experienced any lace bite issues, and between the lace loop in the center and the partial inner bootie, the tongue isn’t moving at all. I’ve had two long runs of 5+ hours that ended in the early afternoon with ~85° temperatures, and didn’t have any heat complaints.

The new single-layer mesh upper in the Speedgoat 4 is very airy, allowing daylight to illuminate the interior of the shoe -- shown here with the footbed removed.

Dom:  The big change with the upper is a new, single layer mesh.  This fabric feels very tough. It is open enough that daylight floods through and lights up the interior of the shoe.  In use, I didn’t notice a lot of pros and cons: it didn’t seem noticeably cooler than the previous shoe; but neither did it admit a lot of dust.  My expectation is that it will dry out very fast, but I haven’t yet tested this.  

The heel collar in the Speedgoat 4 (right) is slightly lowered compared to SG3 (left)

Dom:  Hoka also chose to tweak the shape of the heel cup.  This seemed surprising to me, as you mess with the shape of a shoe as successful as the Speedgoat at your peril.  The newer heel has a slightly lower collar, and a less pronounced inward bend around the Achilles tendon. When wearing the two shoes side-by-side, I was aware that the heel retention was slightly less good in the new shoe.  That said, I have notably narrow heels and so am somewhat of an edge case: it may be that runners with stouter feet will appreciate the extra room and experience less tendon aggravation.
The heel in the SG4 (right) is wider and bends less inward than SG3 (left)

Dom:  Version 4 also brings changes to the tongue, which is less padded than before, and now asymmetric.  I don’t know what motivated the change, beyond weight shaving, but the new tongue felt less comfortable.  It’s not bad, but a step back nonetheless.

Jeff V:  The Engineered Mesh upper has a more synthetic look/feel than previous versions with a more dense weave to keep out dirt and debris, while still maintaining good breathability.  It has been advertised as increased breathability, but given that I am testing on days with temps maxing out in the 70’s, I can’t yet confidently confirm this claim.

The TPU overlays span the same general range across the midfoot, though are more narrow and numerous than the wider, thicker overlays on the SG3.

Fit is true to size and consistent with previous versions and other Hokas, though with the exception of the wider forefoot.  As Dom has mentioned, he is unable to tell the difference, though I am aware of a slight difference. I am not sure entirely why that is, but suspect that my feet are slightly more narrow, right at the width where the SG3 fits me perfect with a non swollen foot, but sometimes just ever so slightly too snug after my foot swells, so I think the size of my foot has me riding that fine line.  Either way, I am appreciative of the SG4 providing just that little bit of extra width exactly where my foot needs it.

SG3 left, SG4 right, slightly wider.  This photo also illustrates the difference between the tongues, uppers and overlays.
SG3 left, SG4 right.  The difference in width is noticeable at this comparative angle.  Also slight variations in tread at the toe.

Overhead in the toe box is a little lower and while noticeable when first trying on the shoe, I never noticed it again while running or thereafter.

The upper, despite the thicker, more dense Engineered Mesh still maintains good flexibility and I appreciate that the materials are more durable, which I think will add to the longevity of the shoe when used for typical trail running, but especially for use on rough trails and off-trail.

The heel collar is noticeably less padded, but still adequately substantial.  I did however notice on my first run that I was feeling a very slight bit of heel slippage that I did not notice on previous versions, particularly on steep climbs.  After employing that extra eyelet, I was able to lock my heel down better and heel lift has not since been noticed.

The tongue is also thinner with no padding and a touch short, though I have not found this change to have any negative effects.

I have not had any issues with upper security/foothold on the SG2/3, however I do find the SG4 to be slightly more secure without any penalty in comfort or fit.  When running top speed downhill, my foot feels absolutely locked down and I have the utmost confidence.
Canice: I’ve now run this shoe on dry dusty trails and as of this morning snow-covered trails and the upper has performed perfectly. Plenty breathable while not allowing the shoe to fill with dust and while there is no expectation of the Speedgoat 4 being run in the snow, I have to say I was quite comfortable.

Jeff B: Now I understand why the Speedgoat is one of the most lauded trail shoes of the last five years. There is enough cushion to smooth out bad landings, but it isn’t a lumbering beast that mutes all ground feel. I’ve experienced exactly two jarring landings (user error obviously) that I felt through the 28/32 stack, so the midsole is doing its job. That said, there isn’t much torsional flex with the Speedgoat 4, it is still a well-cushioned Hoka trail shoe after all, but I didn’t have any foot numbness (which usually shows up around mile eight if a shoe is too stiff).

Jeff V:  The Injected EVA Midsole, like the SG2, SG3 and EVO SG provide gobs of soft (but not overly squishy) underfoot protection with a reasonable amount of response.  I find the response to be less than the EVO Mafate, but still is very good and is aided by the late stage meta rocker, which now with the SG4, is even slightly further back than the previous versions.  This is an ever so slight improvement for me, as I feel as though the SG4 transitions a little quicker.
The EVA midsole of previous versions compacts noticeably over time, however I find that to be less noticeable running and primarily noticed when comparing a very well used Speedgoat to a brand new Speedgoat.  This is more of an observation than a knock, but I suspect the same here.

Dom:  Hoka have apparently tweaked the midsole formulation of the Speedgoat 4 with “a new lightweight foam for a more responsive ride”.  Hmm. Well, firstly the new shoe is no lighter than before (and in fact is slightly heavier). Secondly, I didn’t notice much difference in underfoot feel between SG3 and SG4.  That’s a good thing, because -- as I’ve remarked already -- there wasn’t much wrong with the SG3, and a shoemaker messes with a successful recipe at its peril.

Dom:  I’m always suspicious when manufacturers (and shoe reviewers!) start talking about “responsiveness”.  This is a nebulous and poorly-defined term: it’s not something that can be measured quantitatively, and different people mean different things by it.  Personally, I understand it to mean the opposite of “squishy”. A soft, easily-compressed midsole might feel nice, but it has the trade-off that it dissipates energy.  A firmer midsole does not compress so much under load, and stores less energy when loaded, resulting in a more efficient ride. When you push down on a firm sole, you don’t feel the ‘wallowy’ sensation you do in a squisher sole, and instead experience a more immediate response underfoot.  Hence a more “responsive” ride. It is similar to the difference between the suspension of a vintage Cadillac vs. a taut, stiff racing car. As with cars, there’s no “right” answer: the race car may be too harsh for everyday driving; the Caddy too spongy for aggressive driving. But you can’t have it both ways: a shoe cannot be soft and responsive.  Apologies for the digression. The relevant point here is that I didn’t notice any real difference in “responsiveness”: the new midsole feels much the same as the previous one.

Dom:  It might be worth mentioning that the SG4 midsole did seem to need a fair amount of break-in.  When comparing the flexion of the two shoes, I initially noted that the SG4 seemed stiffer, with a more pronounced break-point, slightly further forward.  But after some aggressive hand-flexing of the shoe, the flex changed, the shoe became more flexible, and the bend more gradual.  This was after one run in the SG4. It reminded me of breaking in old leather-soled shoes. Or even trying to soften up the flex in plastic Telemark ski boots.   Regrettably, I didn’t have a virgin pair of SG3 to compare against.   

Canice: The best part of the Speedgoat 4 midsole is that it has lots of cushion while providing plenty of support. This is a shoe where the “ride” of the shoe is dictated by the midsole and thus the two categories overlap. All in all, the Speedgoat 4 has a great midsole.

Jeff B: One of the few Hoka trail shoes to use Vibram’s Megagrip compound, the Speedgoat has plenty of grip, at least on dry desert trails. There’s a little bit of midsole peeking out between the rubber, but nothing that should impact traction or durability. The lugs aren’t massive, but they are plentiful, and I was surprised how smooth the shoe runs on the road (my first run was a 6.5 mile loop that had me running a third of a mile on road to get to the trailhead) considering the prominent lugs. I’m not sure the logic behind the opposite chevron pattern the lugs use, but they seem to do the trick.
Jeff V:  With the exception of very minor shape changes of the foam between the lugs, the lugs and Vibram rubber are the exact same as previous versions and remains one of the highest performing, most versatile outsoles out there, excelling on smoother, hard surfaces, as well as excellent wet traction, loose traction, rocks, slabs, snow, ice and mud, the Speedgoat is a great all arounder.  Durability has also proven to be outstanding.

Dom:  The RTR reviewers have opined on the quality of the Speedgoat outsole again and again and again and again.   The executive summary is that while there may be outsoles that perform better in specific conditions, the Speedgoat does extremely well across the board, and has excellent longevity to boot.  The tweaks to version four are slight, with the most visible changes a new stepped profile to the lugs, and a different, chevron pattern on the back and front edges of the shoe. 

Canice: The Speedgoat 4 outsole is durable and has plenty of traction. For my part it performs the same as the Speedgoat 3’s outsole. This morning while running on snow covered trails I did notice on a particularly rocky section of trail (3 miles of snow covered sandstone) everyone around me was slipping and I had all the traction I needed. I never once slipped.
SG4 outsole (left) has a new, stepped lug profile compared to SG3 (right)

Jeff B: The dialed-in fit and aggressive outsole paint a clear picture for what this shoe is meant for - big miles with technical features. This isn’t the shoe to use on groomed dirt that your average road shoe could run. You could, but it would be overkill. That said, when the trail smooths out and your pace picks up, this shoe feels great. It also feels fine while picking slow lines through rocky terrain, and the subtle (but definitely there) toe spring gives the shoe a quick turnover without compromising stability and security.

Jeff V:  The Speedgoat 4 has a smooth and fast transition with good response, a well rounded maximally cushioned midsole that provides predictable, stable all day comfort.

Dom:  Despite the new midsole foam, no significant changes to report.  Like the Speedgoat 3, the SG4 has a bulletproof, super-cushioned ride with little ground feel.  This is not to my taste for daily trail running , but is ideal for long-duration efforts and rough terrain (like the mountainous hundred-mile races its namesake Speedgoat Karl Meltzer is famous for).

Canice: Big picture.  The Speedgoat 4 ride feels the same as the Speedgoat 3, but if you have never run in a pair, the ride is firm enough to feel responsive, yet soft enough to absorb 100’s of trail miles in a single go. The ride is surprisingly lively for a “Max Cushion” shoe.

Conclusions and Recommendations
Jeff B: It’s official, I’m a Speedgoat fan. My only concern is that Speedgoat faithful with narrow feet may be swimming around in this shoe, but I don’t think the toebox is that big, and the midfoot and around the heel can be locked down very well. I would encourage any trail runner who is looking for a big run shoe to give them a chance, and think most would love the grip and cushioning combination the Speedgoat brings. Also, big bonus points to Hoka for releasing a colorway that’s 98% gray/black so you don’t have to wear fluorescent orange/yellow/blue/red/etc if you don’t want to - but they also have an amazing orange colorway that is on my short list.
Jeff B’s Score: 9.5/10 
Ride: 9.5 (50%) Fit: 9 (30%) Value: 10 (15%) Style: 10 (5%)

Jeff V:  A steady progression in Speedgoat lineage, the SG4 provides welcome improvements to the upper and remains a shoe that I am keen to recommend and keep in my normal rotation of (many) running shoes.  The Speedgoat 4 is versatile and is hard to recommend for any one task, but instead excels at a wide range of usage, from easy to moderate to technical terrain, training, racing and especially ultra distance events.  The tread is such that it can easily handle 4 seasons, door to trail and be used for rough, off trail, all mountain use as well without missing a beat. The price has crept up by $5, but given the wide range of use and now increased durability, I think $145 is not out of line. 
Jeff V’s Score:  9.6/10 
Ride: 9.5 Fit: 9.5 Value: 9.5 Style: 9 Traction: 10 Rock Protection: 10 Weight: 9

Dom:  I was underwhelmed by the Speedgoat 4.  Don’t get me wrong: this shoe is excellent across the board.  The problem is that it follows up on a shoe that was already excellent in every respect.  I wanted there to be a clear improvement over SG3, and the SG4 didn’t deliver this. Weight is up slightly, not down.  I was excited by the news that SG4 featured a wider forefoot, but couldn’t really tell the difference. The new tongue seems slightly less comfortable than the previous version.  Heel hold is slightly less secure. And price is up $5.  
Dom’s Score:  9.1/10
Ride: 9 (30%), Fit 9 (30%), Value: 8 (10%), Style: 9 (5%), Traction: 10 (15%), Rock Protection 10 (10%)

Canice: The Speedgoat 4 is an ultra distance animal that eats up miles and miles of technical trail while saving your legs and body the harsh reality of running 100 miles. I’ve run every version of the Speedgoat and the Speedgoat 4 will be in my daily rotation.
Canice’s score: 9.7 /10

Comparisons Index to all RTR reviews: HERE

Hoka One One Speedgoat 3 (RTR Review)  
Jeff V: Similar overall feel, though I prefer the slightly wider and more durable secure upper of the SG4.
Canice: I know the differences Hoka states but the Speedgoat 4 feels the same to me as the Speedgoat 3, and this is a good thing.
Dom: Tongue is better in SG3, heel retention is better in SG3.  Extra width in SG4 was barely noticeable to me (both shoes feel equally narrow).  SG3 is lighter and cheaper. Stick with SG3.

Hoka One One Evo Mafate 2 (RTR Review)
Jeff B: Similar fit and similar stack (28/32 SG4 vs 31/35 EM2) but there are crucial differences. The Evo Mafate 2 has an upper with a little more stretch, has a slightly higher stack height, and different traction profile, while the Speedgoat upper is more form fitting, runs a little firmer, and outsole has lugs everywhere. 

The EM2 lugs (right above) are definitely more pronounced, but roughly a third of the shoe has exposed EVA lugs, which don’t do much. The SG4 lugs (left above) are a little more subdued but have much better coverage throughout the shoe. Both are   great for trails that have technical and easy sections, but if you’re looking at lots of tech, take the Speedgoat, if your regular trails are more groomed with less tech, go Evo Mafate. Up in the air? Save $25 and take the Speedgoat. Speedgoat fits true-to-size, Evo Mafate I went half size up.

Jeff V:  While lugs are more plentiful on the SG4, the EVO Mafate 2 lugs are more pronounced and somewhat awkward until they wear down some.  I find both outsoles to be very good, but the EVO Mafate 2 is not quite as versatile as the SG4, especially on harder surfaces. EVO Mafate 2 is not quite as stable in technical terrain, but with some familiarity, it can hold its own.  EVO Mafate 2 is a touch lighter and find it is quicker and more responsive, enough so that I would be more likely to grab the EVO Mafate 2 for racing and the SG4 for training or technical off trail.

SG4 left and EVO Mafate 2 right.  
EVO Mafate lugs (right above) are taller (when new) and are more pronounced.  Much of this “pronounced” lug feel is related to the distribution and lesser quantity of lugs compared to the Speedgoat (left above).

Canice: This year competing in Leadman I wore both the Speedgoat 3 and the Mafate 2’s and you can really feel the difference. In particular I ran the Speedgoat 3’s for the first 65’ish miles of the Leadville 100 to the Twin Lakes aid station. As my feet got wet, I switched into my Mafate 2’s. While the Speedgoat felt responsive and precise, my Mafate’s felt like I slipped into a comfy pair of house shoes. I typically run a single pair of shoes for 100’s but this was great pairing that I didn’t plan on making. Given the Speedgoat 4 feels the same to me as the Speedgoat 3 this comparison holds true.

Dom:  From the point of view of comfort, I prefer the EVO Mafate 2.  Although not necessarily a wider shoe, the upper incorporates a stretch panel in the forefoot that allows for toe splay.  Secondly the EVO Mafate sole stack is taller, softer, and kinder underfoot when you’ve been running many miles. The downside is that because of the upper stretch and tall, squishy sole stack the EM2 is less stable.  The diminished stability, combined with limited coverage outsole rubber, means that the EM2 can be hazardous in technical terrain. 

Hoka One One Evo Speedgoat  (RTR Review)
Jeff V: Lighter than the SG4 with a more flexible feel which I attribute to the Matryx upper.  Both are excellent shoes, with SG4 providing much better foothold and EVO SG feeling a bit loose when running technical terrain fast, but goes unnoticed on moderate terrain.

Dom:  The EVO flavor of Speedgoat, which has a similar upper to EVO Mafate 2 (with a forefoot stretch panel) is my clear favorite.  For wider-footed runners, it is significantly more comfortable. And it wins on weight, too. The downside is less secure foothold than regular Speedgoat. 

Nike Zoom Terra Kiger 5 (RTR Review)
Jeff B: On paper two similar shoes, but not much of a comparison. The Hoka has 5mm higher stack, which gives it a much more comfortable ride, and even though the Kiger has a segmented rock plate, the little bit of extra midsole in the Speedgoat does a better job protecting the foot than the Nike. The Speedgoat outsole has much better grip, and even though the Kiger is the better looking shoe, its upper doesn’t give your toes the same amount of room as the Speedgoat - which is probably the first time in history that sentence has been written. Take the Speedgoat and don’t think twice about it.

Jeff V:  I didn’t really think to compare these two directly, but while on the topic, Kiger 5 is lower, lighter and more responsive than the SG4 with slightly less upper security.  For shorter, faster runs/races, then I would pick the Kiger 5, but for longer runs or ultras, the SG4 is far superior and also with better, overall more versatile traction.

Canice: Jeff V’s assessment is spot on. By chance I run Speedgoats and Kigers as my main shoes. Anything shorter, 15 to 20 or less I run the Kiger and trail marathons and greater I go with the Speedgoat.

Dom:  Not really comparable shoes.  SG4 is heavier, and more cushioned.  Terra Kiger is more comfortable, and with much better ground feel.   TK for daily training and shorter races. Speedgoat is the ultramarathon king.
The Speedgoat 4 releases November 2019
Read reviewers' full run bios here
The product reviewed was provided at no cost. The opinions herein are the authors'.
Comments and Questions Welcome Below!
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Bobby said...

So the real question is, will I be able to size back down to my usual trail shoe size of 10.5 in this model or will I need to stick with a half size larger (M11)? The 3 really is a great shoe, but that dang width is what kills me. At a half size larger, I get darn near perfect width but they are a tad on the long side...

Sam Winebaum said...

Hi Bobby,
You can get a sense from review if the regular width will work for you but as stated above wide wil alsol be available so why not try that?
Sam, Editor
Thanks for reading Road Trail Run! See our page with links 100’s of in depth shoe and gear reviews HERE. You can also follow RoadTrailRun on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Instagram where we publish interesting run related content more frequently as well as links to our latest reviews.
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Anonymous said...

Great review.
How does SG4 compare to La Sportiva Bushido II in term of fit and traction, in particular wet/mud condition?

Jeff Valliere said...

Bushido II fit is comparable, but overall Bushido more stable, secure and agile for technical terrain, much more firm underfoot. Bushido II has better rough/off trail, slab traction, but perhaps not quite as overall versatile as the SG.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for reviewing this shoe. I’ve run in Nike Terra Kiger 4 & 5 and looking for an alternative. I’ve never runned in Hoka shoes before..
Speedgoat 4 and Torrent are on my list now. How does Hoka Speedgoat 4 compare to Hoka Torrent?

Jeff Valliere said...

The Torrent is much closer to the Kiger than the SG4, so an apples and oranges comparison. Why decide, get both! (always good to have a handful of shoes, at least) :)

Jeff Valliere said...

I should clarify, comparing Kiger to SG4 or Torrent to SG4 is apples to oranges. Kiger to Torrent comparison is just two slightly different, but very sweet apples!

Rony said...

How does the midsole on the SG4 compare to that of the Skechers GOrun MaxRoad 3 Ultra? Thanks!

Lewis said...

Thanks to your recommendations and review of the Hoka Torrent, I went out and ought a pair. Hands down my favourite trail shoe so far. As my first Hoka shoes, I was worried about the width but went up to a size 12 which ended up being perfect. How do they compare to the Speedgoat 4 in terms of width and fit?

MarkP said...

Thanks for the review. I've been waiting for these as I tried the SG3 and found them a touch too narrow. I recall you tested the Raidlight Responsiv early this year and there was mention of the Responsiv Ultra also being reviewed but I never saw it. Did you review it in the end and, if so, how does it compare to the SG4?

Anonymous said...

The wide version will only be wider in the forefoot or wider in the whole length of the shoe?

Sam Winebaum said...

HI Anonymous,
The overall platform at the forefoot is wider under foot and I assume the upper given wide last will be as wide lasts typically are (don't wear wide personally) in terms of fit of rest of the shoe.
Sam, Editor

Σπύρος said...

The fabric that connects the tongue to the shoe, is much thicker and less breathable than that of version 3. It looks like neoprene.

Unknown said...

Thank you for the great reviews. Seriously considering this shoe but am wondering how it might compare with the updated Brooks Cascadia 14? I'm planning on signing up for Pikes Peak Ascent so I need a great trainer. BTW, the Torrent you gave great reviews to became my favorite trail shoe.

Jeff Valliere said...

Tough choice! The Hoka is certainly more built up and maximal, but both offer very good all day protection and traction. Cascadia 14 has a slightly more generous forefoot, but both fit me very well. If you want more “normal”, then Cascadia 14, but if you want max cushion, then SG4.

AndyHyde said...

Cheers again for another amazing review. Recently got a pair after reading and love them. However, ive got a 100miler with 10000m vert in Snowdonia with lots of technical and rock slab(likely to be wet) as well as a bit of grassy/bog. Do you have a suggestion for a slightly more aggressive shoe with great wet rock traction (I like a low drop, bit of cushion, precise fit and stable) that'll see me round 100miles cheers for your help!!

Jeff Valliere said...

We don't get a ton or rain here in Colorado, but I have run in the SG 2, 3, 4 and EVO in wet conditions or in mix of snow, wet, rock, slab and have never found traction to be an issue. I have a few friends who use the Speedgoat for mountaineering and even class 5 scrambles, so think the Vibram Megagrip should suffice for just about any wet trail/slab conditions. We are currently reviewing the Saucony Xodus 10 however, which might be exactly what you are looking for. Stay tuned....

AndyHyde said...

Wow that was fast. Cheers! I will stay tuned

Unknown said...

Hello, I've worn my SG3's for about 600 miles of running and noticed I started getting severe spasms in my calf muscles for my longer runs (50K). I read in your review of the SG4 that the heel was changed from the SG3 to be more wider. I was wondering if you've heard complaints from anyone regarding muscle spasms in the calf area being attributed to the shaping of the SG3 heel and whether or not the SG4 might cause similar calf problems? (If indeed, the heel shape is to blame)

Sam Winebaum said...

Hi Unknown,
At 600 miles they may have lost cushion and collapsed somewhat. Calf cramps are most often caused by nerves stressing out due to efforts greater than usual, races. I used to get them regularly in tougher trail races and even some road races. I always wear calf sleeves racing and have never had cramps in the calf since. Other than that the stiffness of the SG3 may be a factor especially if run hard uphill or on the flat.
Sam, Editor

Jeff Valliere said...

600 miles is a lot. Although the shoe may look relatively good, I once compared my Speedgoat 2 with ~125 miles with a brand new one and the difference was surprising. I would guess there may be a "max pack out" point, I am not sure if that is 75 miles, 150 miles or 600 miles, but would guess this could have something to do with it. I, like Sam, also wear calf sleeves, sometimes, but often on longer runs, as I think it helps too. Either way, I always think it is a good idea to rotate several pairs of shoes and never stretch them out for too long.

Anonymous said...

Gentlemen would you please compare these to the Saucony Xodus 10 (I’m currently testing these with 60+ miles now in the White Mountains) and the Topo Mtn Racer. I spend the majority of my time using these for running/hiking in the Whites and am looking for that Nirvana shoe for my August time frame 50 mile, 17,000 foot gain Hut To Hut Traverse run/hike. The Saucony Xodus 10 has been extremely impressive thus far. They basically disappear on your feet for miles, toe box is decent, and traction has been overall pretty darn good. Wet slab and smooth rock I’m wishing for even better though hence the shoes with Vibram MegaGrip soles like the Speedgoat and Mtn Racer. Crazy as it sounds the tall lugs on the Saucony had a tendency to give/slide on the tenaciously grippy rocks of the Northern Presidentials but the shoe itself is comfortable as heck with great lockdown. Speedgoat toe box concerns me for 50 miles of technical rocks. Mtn Racer toe box shouldn’t be an issue but is that shoe ok for 50 miles in August temps, and what many reviews describe as quite a firm ride although some are running Ultras in them. I could care less about a muted dull feel and probably would prefer that for overall protection. Not interested in anything that has the less sticky Vibram XS-Trek compound. Thought the LaSportiva Jakal might have been an option but not liking reviews thus far. Lycan 2 perhaps a possibility as they increased the lug height on the non GTX version. Moderate stack height.
Eagerly waiting for the release of the Altra Olympus 4. Much more aggressive looking, better lugs, more MegaGrip than previous versions which I have used extensively for hiking up here and run in allot. Uber comfortable shoes and better IMO than their highly touted Lone Peaks. Altra should make a mid version of the Olympus for sure.
All thoughts and other suggestions are welcome. My Nirvana shoe might be the Saucony with the VJ MAXx sole. Also of importance if you’ve read this far (hopefully) is I weigh 165lbs in the birthday suit and am 62 years young going on 45 ��

Jeff Valliere said...

Speedgoat 2/3/4/EVO have great grip in all conditions I have tested in (Colorado), but sounds like you have forefoot width concerns for longer distances, which is a valid concern depending on your foot. Have you considered the Salomon XA Alpine Pro or Arc Teryx Norvan LT 2? We have reviewed both and have outstanding grip, secure yet accommodating upper and excellent protection.

Anonymous said...

Jeff thanks for the reply,
That Salomon (besides the hideous colorway) is extremely intriguing and has their TA compound. If I was running 50 miles no way in that shoe but as you know the majority of this endeavor is probably fast hiking and running where you can. Shoe is totally made for these type of conditions. An expensive gamble but it would also make a great hiking shoe. Short of the Salomon’s stickier compound that Xodus 10 is gonna be hard to beat I’m thinking?
The Arc Teryx is a no go. More expensive and reports that the heavy overlays at the base of the lace area start to dig into the top of the foot over time. Even with REI’s excellent return policy I’m going to pass on that one.
So no one else in your crew has thoughts on the Mtn. Racer for this 50 mile beat down? I might possibly give the Speedgoat 4 a tryout even though I don’t like some of the changes they made to it. Thank you REI, Topo as well. Hoka even has the SG 3 in my size and if they are still doing the 30 trial thing might even give those a go.

Anonymous said...

Hi, what could be Saucony's most similar model (if any) to Hoka Speedgoat 4?

Jeff Valliere said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jeff Valliere said...

Anonymous, probably the Xodus 10, though we are about to receive the Canyon TR for review, so with even more cushion/stack than the Xodus 10, could be closer. Stay tuned!

AndyHyde said...

Hi all. Anyone else have any issues with MTPJ pain in these shoes. I got a pair a while back and really like them but seem to get severe pain in my 1st MTPJ on both feet whenever I run them. Don't seem to get it in any other shoes (even the Evo speedgoat). I notice that the only way to alleviate is to run a bit more flat footed (trending towards heel strike): im predominantly a forefoot striker and tend to favour more flexible shoes for this reason. The torrent seems to be perfect ride for me but the upper is a little loose @ midfoot and would love a smidge more cusion to see it through a 100miler. Any advice/feedback welcome. Cheers

theorist said...

"I didn’t notice much difference in underfoot feel between SG3 and SG4."...."The Speedgoat 4 ride feels the same as the Speedgoat 3"..."the Speedgoat 4 feels the same to me as the Speedgoat".

These observations surprised me. I own both the SG2 (which, as you and everyone else says, has the same midsole as the SG3), and the SG4. And I find a night-and-day difference between their midsoles. The SG2 is super-soft, while the SG4 is (for a Hoka) relatively firm. The SG2 is so much of a marshmallow that it is unusable for me as a trail runner. During descents, I tend to land on my midfoot-forefoot, and the SG2's forefoot compresses so much that its 4 mm drop turns into more like 14 mm, making me feel like I'm descending in high heels. Plus it compresses so completely that it feels like there's no cushion left--I'm essentially bottoming out (the taper in the thickness of the sole in the front probably contributes to this).

If the SG2 does indeed have the same midsole as the SG3, then everything I've written about the former should apply to the latter (and also to the Evo SG, which has the same midsole as the SG2/SG3).

Jeff Valliere said...

Thanks for reading and thanks for the feedback theorist, interesting to hear different perceptions. I don't have a concrete answer or explanation, but there are many factors at play, like age of the shoe, temperature, variations in runner weight, terrain, stride, run style, preferences or just how one feels on the day. Either way, I have really enjoyed the SG 2/3/4 and are heavily favored at the top of my rotation.

sharebee said...

HI, I've been running in Hoka's for some years typically road, this is my first pair of SG's I really like them but want to comment on longevity. After only about 300k in my SG4's the clear plastic rand had worn a hole through the fabric of the upper. The wear follows the line where the rand ends and the upper starts. After the wear became evident it was only about 20k before there was a hole right though. This is exactly the same for both left and right shoes.

Interestingly I had previously returned a pair as this same rand was coming away after only two outings, perhaps 40k. I was told that there was a manufacturing issue with that colour (orange) and replaced them with red/black ones. I notice in the pictures on your review that the shoes you were testing also seem to have a similar issue.

Otherwise the SG4 have been great, really grippy on wet mud and when the trails were icy, very little wear on the sole. On an unrelated note I did trim the tongue down after they caused me some initial pain where they meet the ankle as they are quite stiff. Trimming worked fine and as the material is bonded there was no separation issue.

Due to the lockdown I've only been running around a local park (6k circuit's 85M ascent each) Typically 80/20 Trail (mud) / pavement up to 100k per week (rotating trainers) I'm interested to know if anyone else has experience of this issue? Or am I doing something odd?

Jeff said...

Hi sharebee,

The plastic overlay coming off in the pictures above were from my pair, and the problem got much worse. Instead of just being loose in one small area, that whole overlay is separated from the rest of the shoe - almost looks like little wings. Interestingly, it is only on one shoe (the right) but it is on both the lateral and medial sides of that shoe. The left is pretty beat up, but the overlay isn't delaminating in any way.

Knowing that these were early samples, I attributed it to them still working out the kinks in production, however, I did find one very odd element to the SG4. I bought another pair, same size but different color, and found that they fit very differently. The toebox felt very cramped, and I sent them back without running in them - but I did take some measurements with my calipers to see if I could figure out why they felt so different. The second pair was almost 3mm narrower, and that was measuring the midsole/outsole (lining up the same place lug to lug). Not sure which of the two pairs was the anomaly, but it was close enough to my goal race I didn't have time to source more pairs to test out, and went a different direction come race day. Perhaps there were production issues early on, and they made some changes - which resulted in the the slight shape/size change.

Jeff Valliere said...

Hi Sharebee, I have had no issues, but I only have 74 miles on mine. I'll keep an eye out though as I run in them more (still a favorites shoe).

sharebee said...
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sharebee said...

Thanks Jeff and Jeff.
The reviews you do are awesome, Road Trail Run has become an invaluable resource every time I need a new bit of running kit.
Having now done a few kilometers in a pair of New Balance More Trails I can definitely say that I prefer the SG4s, I just wish they would hold together a bit longer - I'll be getting another pair to see if I've just been unlucky.
Thanks again for the awesome work

guillet jean jacques said...

I just ordered the Hoka speedgoat 4, because I need a replacement shoe halfway through the UTMB, even if I go with the nike terra kiger 7, I think I will need something even more comfortable to finish this course, I just wanted to bring a precision on the size, for the future buyers, I take a 10 for all my shoes, brooks catamount, nike terra kiger 7, hoka mafate speed 2, brooks caldera 4, there is only for asics trabucco max that I should have taken an 11, because they cut very small, and for the speedgoat 4, I had to take a 10.5, which size exactly like my nikete terra kiger 7, if I had taken a 10 it would have been too tight in length, and especially less wide, which would have been a problem for me, with a 10.5, the forefoot is just perfect.